CELTIC striker Leigh Griffiths will not feature in Sunday’s squad for the game against Livingston, but Neil Lennon has maintained that the Scotland internationalist has a long-term future with the club.

Griffiths has not played since the end of August after breaking down with injury and illness but Lennon has rebuffed any suggestion that he would be willing to allow the 29-year-old to go out on loan in January.

“Leigh won’t go on loan in January,” said Lennon. “That’s not a consideration. He’s too good a player. I want him here. Leigh just needs a bit more time to get up to speed.

READ MORE: James Forrest 'right away said no' to having a book published about his career

“Leigh isn’t fit just now. He’s had a thigh strain and is starting back to training. He had a virus that kept him out of the squad for Hibs and he isn’t fit enough at the minute to figure.

“That’s where we are. He’s not conditioned enough to play at the moment. He needs to do a bit more cardio work and that’s fine, so he’s just not in the squad at the minute because he’s working back from that injury.”

Lennon has fallen down the pecking order at Celtic with Odsonne Edouard and Vakoun Bayo the first and second-choice strikers at the club. And Lennon has acknowledged that he has had to try to reassure the player at times that he can get back to where he was after his well-documented time away from the club.

“I speak to him,” he said. “I don’t whip him or anything, but I just have the odd chat here and there. It’s just to see how he is doing because he’s had a difficult time.

“He did fine when he came back and then it dipped. But that happens, it’s natural.

“Then he had the injury and he’s not fit enough to play right now. There is always a chance of players getting niggles but because Leigh has had that sabbatical, he’s finding it hard to maintain the fitness standards. But that will come.”

READ MORE: Davie Hay: Neil Lennon's exciting Celts are really motoring now

Meanwhile, Lennon also dismissed speculation linking Celtic with an interest in Dundee United striker Lawrence Shankland. “No, not at the minute,” said Lennon.

Meanwhile, Australia manager Graham Arnold has hinted that Daniel Arzani may need to quit Celtic if he does not secure first-team football by January.

Arnold has revealed that Socceroos assistant Rene Meulensteen held talks with Lennon regarding Arzani’s progress following close to a year out with a devastating cruciate knee ligament injury.

He said: “It’s an important few months for Daniel – before the January transfer window – that he gets game time.

“Rene Meulensteen, my assistant, went up to Celtic and sat with Neil Lennon and they rate him highly. They love him. They think that he is a special player but at the end of the day it’s all about getting those opportunities on the pitch and getting game time.”